Gabriel hadn’t meant to do it, not really.
Okay well, maybe he had; but he was seriously reconsidering his heat of the moment actions with the legendary bitchface Sam Winchester was now was giving him.
Seriously, the look of pure apprehension and disapproval written across the young hunter’s face was making him regret even thinking of doing anything trickster-y ever again.
Okay, well maybe only for the next half-hour; but still, that was a lot for Gabriel.
Sam sighed, shifting on his feet and catching Gabriel’s eye when he looked up at the movement.
‘Dude, Dean says you punched him in the face. And not that I don’t think he deserves to be knocked around a bit every once in a while; but he won’t even tell me why. Hell, I’m not even sure he knows himself.’
Gabriel’s eyes widened and he suddenly burst into peals of laughter, doubling over and clutching at his stomach helplessly, waving a hand at Sam to shush him as he tried to interrupt his moment.
Sam fixed him with a glare and waited him out, crossing his arms and tapping his foot to drive the point home.
Eventually, Gabriel slowed to a short chuckle and straightened up, wiping mock tears from his eyes.
‘Oh man, you’re killing me here! Tell me, did Dean actually use the word ‘punched’?’
‘Well, no, he said you hit him, but I had assumed it was with your fist...why? What did you do to my brother?’ His nose wrinkled in worry and he glared even harder down at the short angel, who was still grinning.
“Well, I may have hit him in the face with a frying pan? My memory is kind of fuzzy, I was sort of too busy laughing.”
Sam gaped at him, then scrubbed a hand down his face and sighed, loudly.
‘Okay, so that’s what happened, now how about you give me the details on why it happened?’
Gabriel dropped his grin and scowled a little, but not at Sam; more at the memory of why he had bitch-slapped the older Winchester with an impressively accurate materialized replica of his favorite burger-frying pan.
‘Because your brother was being a total bag of dicks to my brother, and I was getting kinda tired of it.’ He crossed his arms too, looking just as huffy as Sam was.
‘Cas? What did he say to him this time?’ Sam briefly recalled the pair’s fights over the years, the insults are thrown around (and these were only the ones he was present for) and decided that yeah; even though Cas could come up with some good comebacks, they were usually snarky replies to something Dean had fired at him first. ‘Another Baby-In-A-Trenchcoat kinda situation?’
Gabriel frowned and nodded. ‘I’ll pretend to know what you mean, but spare me the details or I might have to go back in for a round two with a large wok.’
Sam nodded thoughtfully. ‘Okay, so you were defending Cas, but what did he say that warranted an imprint of his face in a sheet of metal?’
Gabriel pulled a hand up through his hair and rolled his eyes at himself. ‘Okay, now I hate to throw this word around, y’know given my identity, but when it comes to an angel’s wings I guess the best word to describe them is, well, sacred,’ He leaned against a table’s edge and continued, ’And good ol’ Dean-o was joking about them, mine and Cas’, but I guess he forgot what kind of state Castiel’s wings are still in after his fall and took it too far with a joke about crispily fried angel-wings; which was offensive enough to me with mine still in good condition, so imagine how Cas felt.’
Sam grimaced at the thought. Dean could be quite an insensitive jerk sometimes, he knew that firsthand. He contemplated it for a second.
‘Okay, I get it now. You get a free pass, but only this once. And only because Cas has probably healed him by now anyway.’
Gabriel grumbled, knowing Sam was probably right. He knew he should leave his younger brother to sort his own stuff out with Dean, but it looked like they’d hardly progressed at all in the time that Gabriel had been gone, and with his ability to read both of their thoughts it was endlessly frustrating that neither of them would admit to the other how they truly felt.
‘A free pass, huh? And what does that mean?’ He cocked his head and looked up at the hunter curiously.
‘Means I won’t have to arm myself in the kitchen and get revenge with the real-deal frying pan.’ They shared a grin and stood in silence for a few seconds, Sam looking like he was about to explode with questions.
Gabriel should have expected it, honestly.
‘Soo, on the topic of wings…’ The nonchalant tone of his voice totally failed to cover his underlying excitement.
Gabriel punctuated his sentence with a loud groan and sank into a chair.
‘Oh my God Sam, you are such a nerd!’
‘Well, in my defense I wasn’t sure you even still had your wings. The last time I saw them they were kind of scorched into the floor of the Elysian Fields Hotel…’ They both shuddered at the memory.
‘Actually, the only time I’ve ever seen any angels wings is when they’ve died. So I wasn’t sure if they were only visible with death, or- well I’m still not sure how they work.’ He looked hopefully at the archangel, who rolled his eyes again, but more so teasingly than rudely.
‘Well haven’t you seen Castiel’s shadows?’ Sam shook his head.
‘Nah that was just Dean, he told me about it but I, uh, wasn’t sure if I should believe him. I thought it might have been Cas bending Dean’s perception to make himself more intimidating.’ He smiled sheepishly, realizing how dumb it sounded to say it out loud.
Gabriel chuckled. ‘You really think Cas would be so vain?’
‘I guess not, but he could have been trying to impress Dean or something. That, I can see happening.’
Gabriel laughed again. ‘Okay kiddo, I’ll give you that one. Dad only knows why but Cassie is pretty infatuated with your brother. Crazy if you ask me, but he never has, so,’ He held up his hands in mock surrender, ‘I never answer.’
‘Huh, and you guys, angels I mean, are okay with that stuff? You know, like being gay and all that.’ As hard as he tried not to, Sam did blush a little asking.
He didn’t have a complex about being attracted to guys, unlike his brother. He had figured that aspect of himself out in college as most people did, and he was comfortable with the term bisexual; but it was always a worry in the back of his mind that his sexuality was just another reason on the growing list of why all the angels he had encountered had harboured some kind of grudge against him.
Gabriel scoffed. ‘Of course, we are. The Bible? 99.9% Grade A bullshit, written by people who wanted to copy-paste their own beliefs onto everybody else. Good ol’ Dad had skipped out at that point though, so he couldn’t exactly show up and correct them,’ He barked out a bitter laugh, ‘Nah, Dad doesn’t care where you stick your dick, Sammy, cross my heart.’ He winked and snapped up a lollipop, slurping it into his mouth suggestively.
Sam rolled his eyes at his obscene noises, but on the inside he was relieved. It was always nice to be able to check a worry off the list, even if it wasn’t a huge one.
There was another silence, but it wasn’t particularly awkward. Sam found his eyes drifting to the place on Gabriel’s back where he imagined his wings would be, thinking absently about what they might look like.
He jumped when the archangel snapped his fingers.
‘Hey! Didn’t Daddy Winchester ever teach you that staring was rude, ya Sasquatch!?’
Sam looked away, flustered. Gabriel had to know how cool it would seem to a human for him to have honest-to-god real wings.
‘Oh fiiine, I can tell you’re gonna be stuck on this for a while. I’ll take a leaf from Cas’ book and show you their shadows, that sound fair?’
The smile that lit up Sam’s face made the archangel sigh and whisper ‘Nerd’ as he stood from his chair and re-joined Sam in the realm of the standing. He snapped again and his lollipop was gone, having served its purpose.
He shook out his shoulders and arms and left Sam gaping for the second time that day as he let out his grace and light streamed around him in a halo.
The shadows of two wings that seemed impossibly large for Gabriel’s comparatively smaller vessel were cast against the wall and an annoying, low buzzing sound filled the room. Sam mostly ignored it though, not giving it much thought. He was too preoccupied watching the shapes spread out across the room behind Gabriel.
He stood there for a second, proud of the expression of awe he’d put on the hunters face, wings fully unfurled and stretched high above both his and Sam’s heads.
Then the angelic backlights cut out and he muttered a quick ‘Fuck!’, which was directly followed by him collapsing with a sound much louder than his small frame should have allowed.
When Sam quickly got to his feet to make sure Gabriel was alright he had to stop and stare some more at the sight before him.
Gabriel was lying in an irritated heap on the floor, weighed down beneath his suddenly materialized wings. They were a soft golden color that faded into light tan on the inner feathers, and they looked so downy and fluffy that Sam could hardly believe they belonged to the sarcastic, witty archangel.
Sam stifled a laugh at the state he was in and offered him a hand, which Gabriel batted away indignantly. He maneuvered himself out from under his extra appendages and stood up with a long groan, fluffing them out behind him as he straightened his back.
If he had looked awestruck before, then Gabriel had no idea what to call his expression now.
‘Well this sucks, guess these bad boys wanted to come out to play.’ Gabriel rolled his shoulders again and they moved with him, mesmerizing Sam further.
‘You mean this was...an accident?’ Sam snorted at him, pulling his eyes away from his feathers.
‘Shut it, Winchester, it’s been a while since I’ve had anything to do with openly proving my existence as an Archangel of the Lord; cut a guy some slack, I’m more than a little rusty. And it looks like my wings weren’t too keen on staying in the shadows any longer.’ As he talked his wings came to life, moving and gesturing around the room just like his hands. It added a new flow to his speech and overall demeanor and Sam had to wonder how long it really had been since he’d let them free.
He looked so happy; like he was fully whole again after so long hiding parts of himself away.
Gabriel snapped his fingers in Sam’s line of vision, drawing his attention back to his face.
‘You’re staring again Sammy, rude, remember? My eyes are down here.’ He teased, but there was no malice behind his words.
Sam shook his head like he was coming out of a trance and smiled sheepishly again.
‘Sorry…,’ He brought his hand up to rub the back of his neck, ‘They’re just so amazing.’
He wanted to punch himself for saying it, but it was true; the soft, downy feathers in shades of gold and tan glowed with a pretty sheen in the lighting and whenever Gabriel moved there was a faint, almost comforting rustling sound. The more he looked, the less surprised he was that they belonged to the archangel; in fact, they really did suit him.
Gabriel was quite taken aback by Sam’s statement, but he quickly hid it and hoped he was imagining the heat he could feel spreading across his cheeks. He did not blush, no way, no how.
‘Nah kiddo, don’t say that; they’re nothing special.’ But Sam shook his head adamantly, committing to getting Gabriel to believe him now that he’d already complimented him.
‘Well, I think they are.’ He resumed his glances at his wings, hoping he didn’t catch on to what he desperately wanted to do.
Gabriel mock sighed and chuckled softly, moving to stand directly in front of Sam. He brought his wings up against the sides of his body like he was going to use them as a shield, but he stopped before they curled in front of him. He had a soft smile on his face, a nicer version of his signature mischievous smirk, but still raised one eyebrow, like he knew exactly what Sam was thinking. He probably did.
His longest feathers brushed against Sam’s arm and he breathed out in awe at the silky slip of them over his skin.
‘Go on, feel me up, Sammy.’ The archangel teased with a proper smirk, knowing full well that even inappropriate jokes couldn’t make Sam turn tail now.
The hunter’s scowl lasted less than a second, and he took a step closer and tentatively reached out one of his large hands and stroked down some of Gabriel’s feathers. They were smooth and silky, just like they looked. He spotted a few loose-looking feathers and tried to avoid them, not wanting to knock them out and possibly hurt the angel.
Gabriel shivered and shifted on his feet at the contact with his wing, eyes slipping closed, and Sam worriedly stepped back, afraid he’d done something wrong.
It was Sam’s turn to raise an eyebrow when Gabriel let out a low sound that was comparable to a growl and pulled him back in closer by his jacket, circling him with both his wings at the same time so they were essentially both walled in by soft gold.
Sam gasped at the close proximity, being brushed and bumped all over by the smooth feathers. The smell of something ancient and immeasurably strong, but forgotten in time beneath layers of disguise surrounded him and he realized, for the first time in a while, just how old and powerful Gabriel really was.
He should have been terrified, really- would have been, but the trickster side of the angel still showed through, even if it wasn’t necessary for him to hide behind it anymore, and beneath the other smells there was a sweeter, sugary one, and Sam knew that he wasn't really in any danger.
‘I told you, mine weren’t damaged in the fall, Sam. You don’t have to treat them like glass.’ He casually explained, plucking out one of those loose feathers with a sly grin.
Sam eyed him warily as he stepped in impossibly closer to the hunter.
‘What are you- oh.’ He blinked as the shorter man reached up and tucked the golden feather behind his ear. Gabriel grinned at him and stepped back, not enough to exclude him from the cocoon of feathers, but far enough that he could actually look up enough to see Sam’s face.
‘So anyway, get to the feeling up part, I’m getting bored.’ He drawled. Bored was certainly not the word, but Sam didn’t need to know that this was the most alive Gabriel had felt in a while. He jostled his wings and Sam laughed.
The wording was typically filled with innuendo but Sam gladly turned his attention back to the feathery limbs anyway, because who the hell passed up an opportunity like this?
Gabriel shivered again and Sam looked down at him, concerned.
‘Am I hurting you?’ Gabriel quickly shook his head.
‘Quite the opposite, Sammy, it feels pretty good to air these suckers out and get some feeling back into them, but standing is a little bit of a pain in the back, as I’m sure you can imagine.’
He stepped back and broke the circle, heading over to the table. He climbed up onto it and sighed in relief, letting his wings drop off the side of it in a relaxed way.
Sam huffed at him and followed, pulling up a chair between them, totally determined to spend as much time appreciating them as he could. After all, he doubted this would be a regular occurrence.
Gabriel laughed and looked over his shoulder at the younger Winchester. ‘Well, if you’re really that fond of ‘em, how about helping me groom them? I’d ask Cas, but I really don’t wanna be that guy, y’know?’
Sam smiled at him again, wide and excited. ‘Really?’ His eyes were lit up and his dimples were on display, making him look dangerously cute.
‘Yeah kiddo, ‘course. You’d be doing me a favor. Just rake your fingers through and tug out any loose feathers. I’ll warn you now to start up a pile though; it’s been quite a few centuries since I’ve done this, so there’s bound to be a fuckton of ‘em.’
Sam immediately got to work and Gabriel slowly relaxed into the feel of his hands systematically sinking into his feathers and removing all the of the loose ones that kind of itched and poked him in all the wrong places.
‘You’re gonna be the death of me, kid.’ He muttered to himself, dimples dancing in his head.